MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271 “Jeunehomme”; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503; Rondo in A Major, K. 386 – Pascal Roge, piano/ Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra/ Raymond Leppard – Onyx

by | Feb 28, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271 “Jeunehomme”; Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503; Rondo in A Major, K. 386 –  Pascal Roge, piano/ Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra/ Raymond Leppard – Onyx 4013, 74:34 (Distrib. Harmonia mundi) ****:

Pascal Roge – already proven so deft and articulate in the music of Poulenc, Faure, and Debussy – brings his innately graceful, fluent style to bear on two Mozart concertos. The lovely oboe solo with piano in the development of the E-flat Concerto (1777), with its poignant episodes in F Minor and figures that adumbrate the D Minor Concerto, K. 466, simply beguiles. After any number of scintillating, running passages and virtuoso effects like crossed hand, trills, an expansive tessitura, the cadenza conveys a touching serenity. Leppard emphases the uncanny, metric character of the Andantino, with its seven and nine-bar lengths, its pained harmonic modulations. The strings open in canon, muted. The chromatic, resigned affect derives almost entirely from C.P. E. Bach. Lithe agility for the Rondeau, a brisk energy permeating the collaboration, the menuet in the subdominant assuming a galant, old-world charm.

The epic contours of the C Major (1786) make a grand impression, with Roge and Leppard collaborating in an airy, high-minded account of noble power, a symphonic concept. The keynote G provides a fixed point around which Mozart weaves a forest of exquisite harmony, major and minor. Six part polyphony says something about Mozart’s skills as an orchestrator. Military riffs play off against liquid Mannhein rockets and lovely arioso figures in the keyboard part. Occasionally, Roge achieves that music-box sonority (up against oboe and bassoon) that well defines the modern Mozartean. A thrilling first movement cadenza, which I assume is Roge’s very own. The Andante exploits the delay of harmonic resolutions, yet the plangent beauty of the unfolding melos is never compromised. Whiplash runs from both orchestra and solo for the final Allegretto and suddenly, the piano bestows on us a lovely melody and its ornaments, bubbly pageantry. Piano, flute, oboe, and low strings make a combination that only Mozart can blend together.

The Rondo in A (1782) is a Vienna product by Mozart, first cames to my notice via Clara Haskil. The writing has operatic aspirations, the piano often treating the main theme as an aria ripe with chromatic, variable possibilities. A happy display piece, it provides for Roge a natural vehicle for his tender mercies. The Indianapolis Symphony, which I first heard under Fabien Sevitzky, then much later via John Nelson, sounds great, warmly intimate. Their Mozart froths in a totally idiomatic style, a thoroughly European aura.

— Gary Lemco

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